The number of Californians seeking to become teachers has plummeted by 45 percent over a seven year period – even as student enrollments are projected to rise by 230,000 over the next decade and as many as 100,000 teachers are expected to retire.
Teaching is clearly becoming a less and less desirable profession for Californians. The number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs has declined from 77,705 in 2001-02 to 42,245 in 2008-09, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Those dismal figures are paralleled by an ever smaller number of teachers getting their teaching credentials in California – from 24,149 in 2004-05 to 17,797 in 2008-09, the last year for which figures are available.
"Teachers are coping with lower compensation, fewer resources and increasing expectations of student achievement," said Shields. "It is a reasonable expectation that a college sophomore or junior might think 'I might not even get a job, so perhaps I should look for another career.'"
Under normal economic conditions, with rising student enrollments and more teacher retirements, districts would hire more teachers to fill the need. But these are not normal times. Because of shrinking revenues, school districts may simply decide to raise class sizes rather than hire new teachers, said Shields, a trend that is already underway across the state.
The Center for Teaching and Learning report concludes this way: "Put simply, the California teacher workforce faces a critical tension between expectations and resources."
California Comission on Teacher Credentialing